January 8, 2013

A Need So Beautiful: A Panoramic Review

"We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.
" (from Goodreads)

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

My reaction: 

A Need So Beautiful was shorter than I expected, and frankly, not that much actually happens in it. Charlotte is part of this epic battle between good and evil, but this first book is just her story of discovering what she is (one of the Forgotten) and then making a critical decision about her future. There are these Needs that she gets, which come more frequently as the book goes on, which unfortunately I didn't find that interesting. I liked that the Needs showcased different types of problems, but we don't get to know personally any of the characters she helps, so they felt somewhat generic.

I enjoyed reading about Charlotte's struggle to make her ultimate decision, as she has to choose between two unenviable options (spoilers, highlight to read: go into the light, burst, and have everyone forget her, or give into the darkness and become an evil Shadow), but after a while her deliberation got tiresome. In other words, Angst Alert!

Harlin was a nice combination of sexy and sweet at the same time, and I liked that his relationship with Charlotte was already established when the book began. All things considered, it doesn't undergo that much drama, despite the fact that she lies to him for almost the whole book. Which bugged me, by the way — I mean, I get that she'd sound kind of crazy discussing her mystical nature, but all her lying just became repetitive.

I also thought Charlotte's friend Sarah was pretty awesome, providing an upbeat personality and attitude that would probably get annoying in a protagonist but was refreshing in a side character.

Best aspect: I can't really talk about this without spoiling things. For me, the best aspect was what I found to be the saddest part of the book. Spoilers commence: the part where people started to forget Charlotte. The torture of having people forget you was very well-conveyed; at first it's just little things, and then it got more and more serious as her friends began to not know who she was. 
I also really appreciated that some "issues" were included but not made a big deal of. Charlotte has an adoptive family, but it's not the focal point of the story; her adoptive brother is gay, but it's just mentioned in passing a few times that he has a boyfriend.
If I could change something... I'd give the story more plot points (besides just the Needs) so the reader can focus on something other than Charlotte's Big Decision. The plot ends up feeling too simplistic, padded out with Charlotte's worries and dilemma-izing instead of actual events.

I'd also explain the magical side of things better. The mythology surrounding the Light and the Shadows was all quite vague — we don't really know anything about how the Light works, who's in charge here, etc. — and yet it's used to conveniently explain away things, which I found kind of annoying. And then there's Charlotte's power, which gives rise to questions like: how does she convince people so quickly? Why do they bother to listen to her?

And I found the climactic scene a little unbelievable. Spoilers: Harlin accepts that Charlotte is an angel way too easily, and the fact that he turns out to be a Seer is rather convenient (and could have been hinted at a little more, since it basically comes out of nowhere...)

If you haven't read it: and you like angst and angels, and you don't ask too many questions when you read a book, then this might be a winner for you. Otherwise, there's probably something better you could be reading.

If you have read it: how did you feel about the plot (or lack thereof)?
Just one more thing I want to mention:
I thought the very end (spoiler: where she wakes up and doesn't know who she is) was a neat jumping-off point for the second book. 

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. I liked the concept, but I feel like there could have been more done with it. I found myself feeling kind of melancholic afterwards, though, so I guess on some level it affected me. 


  1. I have heard mixed things about this book and your review confirms my hesitance to read it. I'm not so good with angst or drama-filled books, so thank you for the honest review!

  2. I found this one to be okay too. I was bored at times because of the simplistic drama and was annoyed at the end that a certain someone forgave Charlotte so easily for lying and then it conveniently turns out that they won't forget her.


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